Nicola Sturgeon keeps Scotland’s mask law in place as she confirms Monday end to lockdown


Nicola Sturgeon taunted Boris Johnson today as she announced she was modifying Scotland’s escape from lockdown – but will free businesses from crippling staff quarantine rules before England.

The First Minister confirmed Scotland will move to Level 0 of its lockdown on Monday but with some key measures like masks and working from home remaining in law until August.

She used her virtual appearance at Holyrood to mock the PM over masks, the wearing of which will become voluntary from Monday in England despite pleases from medics and scientists.

She accused Mr Johnson of refusing to keep face coverings mandatory  to make his ‘life easier’ with lockdown-sceptic Tory backbenchers who want restrictions to disappear immediately.

But her heaviest hit was over self-isolation for people ‘pinged’ by NHS test and trace and its Scottish equivalent. She revealed the double-jabbed will no longer have to quarantine from August 9.

That is a full week before the same easement is due to take place in England – with question marks today over whether it will remain in place after that.

Details of the ‘Freedom Day’ plans issued by the UK government overnight make clear that the regime will be ‘necessary through the autumn and winter’.

The documents also say exemptions from isolation for the double-jabbed and children are only ‘likely to come into effect later in the summer’, despite Sajid Javid previously specifying August 16.

Ms Sturgeon’s move is certain to lead to a clamor for the timing to be reciprocated south of the border, amid bitter complaints from firms who have been forced to close due to a lack of staff.     

The SNP leader said rules on wearing masks indoors in Scotland would stay in place ‘not just now but in all likelihood for some time to come’

The PM declared last night that 'Freedom Day' will go ahead in England on schedule next Monday, with almost all legal restrictions axed despite the surge caused by the Delta variant.

The PM declared last night that ‘Freedom Day’ will go ahead in England on schedule next Monday, with almost all legal restrictions axed despite the surge caused by the Delta variant.

The SNP leader confirmed restrictions north of the border will be lowered to ‘Level 0’ from Monday as planned.

But in a virtual appearance at Holyrood she said her roadmap would include some modifications. 

‘This is intended to ensure that our pace of easing restrictions is sensible in light of the challenge we continue to face from the Delta variant,’ she said.

‘And I will confirm that certain mitigations – such as the mandatory wearing of face coverings – will remain in place, not just now but, in all likelihood, for some time to come.

‘Measures like the continued wearing of face coverings are important, not just to give added protection to the population as a whole, but also to give protection and assurance to those amongst us who are particularly vulnerable and previously had to shield.’ 

The PM declared last night that ‘Freedom Day’ will go ahead in England on schedule next Monday, with almost all legal restrictions axed despite the surge caused by the Delta variant. 

However, he did plead with people in England to be cautious, with guidance saying they are ‘expected and recommended’ to wear masks in crowded places.

In a veiled attack on Mr Johnson, Ms Sturgeon said added: ‘It is my view that if government believes measures like this matter – and we do – we should say so, do what is necessary to ensure compliance, and take any resulting flak from those who disagree. 

‘We shouldn’t lift important restrictions to make our lives easier and then expect the public to take responsibility for doing the right thing anyway.’ 

As well as masks the First Minister confirmed that a gradual end to working from home was being postponed until August 9 at the earliest. 

The Scottish Government plans to drop the requirement to self-isolate for a close contact of a Covid-19 case when the country moves beyond Level 0 on that date, she added. 

From Monday, weddings and funerals can go ahead with up to 200 guests, and pubs and restaurants will no longer be pre-book only.

There will still be some restrictions on other public gatherings, with eight people from up to four households indoors at home – 10 people from up to four households in pubs or restaurants and 15 people from up to 15 households outdoors.

Ms Sturgeon has already made clear that face coverings will continue, swiping at Boris Johnson ‘throwing caution to the wind’ by making them optional in England and insisting she will put safety above ‘popularity’.  

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: 'The public have done what was expected of them. Now it is time for this SNP Government to deliver and hold up their end of the bargain'

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: ‘The public have done what was expected of them. Now it is time for this SNP Government to deliver and hold up their end of the bargain’

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: ‘The public have done what was expected of them. Now it is time for this SNP Government to deliver and hold up their end of the bargain.

‘So, it is welcome that Scotland will move to Level Zero next week with minor modifications, and that self-isolation rules for people travelling have been relaxed.

‘However, while this statement provides some of the clarity and answers we expected, the challenges are still piling up for this SNP Government on multiple fronts.’   

At a briefing last week, Ms Sturgeon warned ‘we cannot simply throw all caution to the wind and no longer worry at all about rising levels of infection’, citing concerns about pressures on the NHS which have already led to some services being cut back.

She also said the majority of cases are in young people and although they tend to have less severe infections, it would be ‘wrong and irresponsible, because our young people are not guinea pigs, to have no concern at all for young people infected with this virus’. 

The PM declared last night that 'Freedom Day' will go ahead on schedule next Monday, with almost all legal restrictions axed despite the surge caused by the Delta variant

The PM declared last night that ‘Freedom Day’ will go ahead on schedule next Monday, with almost all legal restrictions axed despite the surge caused by the Delta variant

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